Wednesday, February 27, 2019

3 BHAs: Paula's Choice 2% BHA Liquid, CosRx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid, and Stridex Maximum Strength Medicated Pads

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Review of Paula's Choice 2% BHA Liquid, CosRx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid, and Stridex Maximum Strength Medicated Pads

I've been using Paula's Choice 2% BHA Liquid ($30) as part of my (almost) daily routine for over a decade now. I consider salicylic acid (BHA) one of three staple ingredients that keep my skin in good shape, along with niacinamide and (more recently added) azelaic acid (reviewed here). But with Paula's Choice prices steadily rising (it was less than $20 Canadian when I started to use it!) and my income not keeping pace, I decided to gamble on a couple of more affordable, but equally popular, BHA products. I'll review them here, along with the PC BHA, which (spoiler!) I ultimately went back to. (Hope you like acronyms, everybody!)

CosRx makes a very popular and affordable liquid BHA that is now easily accessible in the US in places like ULTA ($22) and on Amazon ($15). Because I'd previously tried Paula's Choice's BHA gel and found it less effective than the liquid, I decided to try the highly-recommended liquid from CosRx. The consistency is actually significantly thicker than the watery PC BHA, which makes it easier to apply without using a cotton pad. It's decidedly a liquid and not a gel, however. It spreads easily on my skin and soaks in well, without leaving much of a film or a sticky residue. That's nice, because I apply my BHA first thing in the morning after washing my face, and so I want it to play well with makeup and other products.

There's not a lot to say about the CosRx BHA experience, except that it did not play well with my Paula's Choice Niacinamide Booster. When I used them both at the same time, my face flushed. It didn't last more than half an hour, and my skin wasn't irritated--my face just got pink and warm. There's nothing dangerous or damaging about this sort of thing, as far as I know, but it's a little unpleasant. I haven't had that experience mixing either of those products with anything else, and it was solved by just using one in the morning and the other at night.

Otherwise, the CosRx didn't cause any problems for me, but unfortunately it didn't do much for my skin, either. The role of BHA in my routine is to reduce clogged pores and blackheads, and to keep the pimples that result from them away. It doesn't really prevent hormonal/cystic acne for me, but it certainly reduces inflammatory acne when its working. The CosRx might have helped slightly, but I wasn't as satisfied with the state of my skin while using it as I was when I used the PC version.

The main ingredient in the CosRx BHA is probably what makes the difference for me. I know that salicylic acid works for me, but the CosRx contains a different form of BHA: betaine salicylate. This ingredient is sometimes said to be gentler than salicylic acid and is supposedly longer-acting. I don't experience irritation from BHAs in general, so I can't really comment on those qualities. My (admittedly very limited) experience suggests to me that if SA works well for you, you can't necessarily count on BS (ha!) to work as well--but on the other hand, if you've had bad luck with SA, a product with BS might be worth trying.

My second affordable BHA product was a bit of a desperation purchase. I traveled a bunch, visiting family and in-laws and friends, in September, but I somehow didn't pack enough of my PC BHA to last for the whole trip. By the third week, my skin was congested and breaking out, so I picked up a tub of the Stridex BHA pads (in the red packaging!) ($4-7), which had been recommended to me on multiple good authorities. The container holds a lot of pads and a lot of liquid, so they're not likely to dry out before you finish them. In fact, one pad was more than enough for my face, and so I started to cut them in half.

The pads are soaked in a 2% salicylic acid liquid, closer in composition to my PC liquid than to the CosRx product. They also contain a bit of menthol, so you get that medicinal smell and a mild cooling sensation--too mild to call it a "tingle." Still, I could do without it, considering it doesn't add anything. These pads served well enough in a pinch to start clearing up my skin a bit. In the long run, however, after I got home again they just weren't quite as effective as the PC liquid. My breakouts subsided and my pores weren't quite as clogged as they had been, but not as clear as I knew they could be. I ended up, as you know, going back to Paula.

I'm still using the Stridex pads, though. I've found over the years that otherwise disappointing BHA and AHA products work great as aftershave on my legs and armpits. If I swipe these on after shaving and before moisturizing, I almost never get razor burn or ingrown hairs. In fact, the price is so good, that I'd recommend picking up a tub of Stridex pads specifically for this purpose if you're a shaver. Their anti-inflammatory and exfoliating properties are ideal.

So now I'm back on the Paula's Choice BHA to stay, I guess. It's a thin liquid about the consistency of water, but it feels a bit sticky on my skin after I apply it. I think the stickiness bothers some people, but since I always follow up with moisturizer and/or sunscreen, I don't mind it (the product on top gets rid of that stickiness). It works perfectly well layered under every other product, skincare or makeup, I've used. And while the bottle is expensive, I only used 4-6 drops at a time, so it lasts me up to six months of daily use. Most importantly, it effectively and significantly reduces clogged pores and inflammatory zits for my skin.

I'll probably never stop testing cheaper alternatives to products I like, even if they fail to impress me half the time, but I suppose there's something satisfying in knowing that I haven't been wasting my money all these years. It's also a reminder that if I had ruled out BHAs entirely after trying the CosRx, I would have been missing out. Just like how glycolic acid doesn't do anything for my face, while lactic acid is excellent--if I had ruled out products called AHAs on the basic of glycolic acid alone, I'd be missing something useful.

Has anyone else tried all three of these? How do they compare for you? I'm also curious about other people's philosophy's on searching for less expensive alternatives to "holy grail" skincare products? Is it worth the gamble, or do you fear you'll almost always end up spending more money in the process?

Monday, February 4, 2019

Apologies if your comments have gone missing!

I just wanted to write a quick note to say that if you've commented on a post here in the last, say, 6 months, I wasn't getting email notifications for comments for a while, so I might not have published your comment and responded. Sorry! I just went through the folder and published a bunch of them today. I'll keep a closer eye on that, because I love being able to chat about things here.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

2019 No Buy


As auxiliary beauty recently noted, it seems like everyone is doing a No Buy this year, or at least this month. I'm curious to see if this is the beginning of a trend toward less consumerism, as people are becoming more aware of and frustrated with the role of money in politics and the increasing threat of climate change, etc.--or if it's just temporary fatigue after a year or two of seemingly endless product releases and shiny new things. I guess it will take a while to see how things shake out once the New Year's resolution season is over.

For me, it's a combination of both. I am really at the point where I can't think of anything else I want, much less need. I probably have more makeup right now than I could use in a lifetime, even if none of it was going to go bad. For skincare I'm all set too. I'm sick of filling bins with empty plastic containers (even though I know that the waste I create as an individual is minuscule in the larger scheme, and making people feel personally responsible for environmental damage is a distraction from the industrial and corporate entities that are creating the vast majority of it). I also question how much of my money I want to give to Ronald Lauder, for example--even though, again, my occasional purchase or lack of a purchase won't ever register among the billions that people like him have in the bank.

Mostly, buying more and more shit just doesn't feel like me. I think there's a hereditary aspect to my hoarding, but I'm pretty good at avoiding it in other areas of my life. (Moving on a yearly basis--or even more often!--also helps.) I started collecting nail polish while I was in grad school, when I had limited (but sufficient) income and was pretty stressed out. Nail polish was something small and affordable and entirely unrelated to my work that I could enjoy. I moved on from there to makeup and skincare. It's similar to the broader economic phenomenon in which sales of lipstick or nail polish increase during a recession, when we still want little treats but can't afford much. And guess what? It's five years later and I still have a modest, unstable income and a lot of stress. It's enough already.

When I started this blog, it was to point out good deals and to investigate whether various products were "worth it" (a subjective concept, for sure!). I am the person who recommended using a light, shimmery eyeshadow as a face highlighter, instead of buying a separate product (remember when it was 2013 and we still had to explain what contouring was?). Now how many highlighters do I own? (Not that many, I suppose, but more than none.) I still haven't become someone who buys the latest trendy thing as soon as it appears, and I've never made Rouge at Sephora or Diamond at ULTA, but I have become someone who buys more beauty products than a single human with one face really needs.

So I'm going to stop buying, and we tend to call that a No Buy in the "beauty community." I don't usually commit to projects like this, just like I don't diet, because I find that it's easy to get obsessive and that following restrictive, dogmatic regimens can easily backfire. But since I don't want to buy anything anyway, I think I might as well do it consciously and mindfully (there's a word that's over-used).

Doing this deliberately requires some rules, or at least guidelines, besides "just don't buy shit." Again, I don't really like arbitrary rules, but I guess the alternative would be to end up buying something, decide I've violated the whole premise of the exercise, and just start shopping mindlessly again. This is where I'd love to hear about your experiences and advice.

I like the idea of "replacement only," which I know is how lots of people frame it. But what does that mean, exactly? For instance, I am currently using an eyebrow pencil that I really like. In general I prefer pencils to other eyebrow products. When it's empty, do I permit myself to replace it with another pencil? Or should I then try to use a couple of pomade/cream brow products I already have, which are perfectly functional, just not my favorite? You don't have to answer that question specifically, but it's the kind of thing I'm pondering. In general, I plan on only buying staples like concealer, mascara, or skincare products with specific ingredients that are important to me. I certainly won't find myself finishing an eyeshadow or a lipstick and not having anything already in my hoard that can replace it.

Also, do I need to set a timeframe? Currently I'm thinking this will continue indefinitely, but is that unrealistic? I don't like the idea of counting down to a date when I can buy something again.

Finally, no more buying things "for the blog." I've never bought things that I didn't think I would eventually use just to blog about them (at least, not that I remember), but I have definitely bought things that I don't need right now because I thought they would make interesting blog posts. I have enough shit at the moment that has never appeared on the blog, and I'm busy enough that my blogging schedule is sporadic, at best, so I'm not going to run out of content any time soon. (I will accept free products from brands if they are things I actually want to try. That has only happened  a few times in all the years I've been blogging.) I also want to start posting on my ancient beauty blog again, because I'm working on an article, and I think doing so will help me make my way through the research.

So what do you think? Do I need more rules? Are you conscientiously limiting your beauty purchases, or restricting your budget in another area more this year than you have in the past? Is it purely for financial reasons, or do you have other motivations? I'm curious to hear how many other people are riding this train right now, and how you conceive of what you're doing!

I'll be updating with my thoughts on all this as time goes by both here and on Instagram.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Azelique Azelaic Acid Skincare from iHerb


Review of Azelique Azelaic Acid Skincare from iHerb

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by iHerb. All opinions, nevertheless, are my own.

iHerb has an interesting line of azelaic acid products available from their brand Azelique, and when they saw how much I’d liked incorporating azelaic acid into my routine in the past, they asked me if I’d like to try their line and write a review. I said yes. Of course.

I hadn’t ever ordered from iHerb before, though I’d heard of it. They’re an online store based in California that has some specific things that set them apart: for one, they operate internationally (i.e. not US only like so many other retailers I write about here). They also offer what they call a Triple Guarantee to make sure customers are 100% satisfied. So first, there’s the value guarantee (that you will get the best overall value—in the world—for the 30,000+ brand name products they sell). Second is the quality guarantee. They guarantee that the products they sell are authentic; they’re committed to quality assurance; and they ship directly from climate-controlled warehouses. And the third part is the delivery guarantee, with no excuses! Your order will be delivered, and iHerb offers free or discounted shipping to over 150 countries. Personally, I found the website easy to use, and my order arrived in just a few days, with everything packed nicely and in perfect condition. 

iHerb sent me their entire Azelique line for free, which was a lot of fun for me as an aspiring hoarder. There are six different products: a night cream, a day lotion, an eye treatment, a cleanser, an activated charcoal/clay mask, and a polish/scrub. They also let me choose two products from their facial oils and serums, and I picked the hyaluronic acid serum (surprise, surprise), and the peptide oil blend. 

So . . . that’s a lot of stuff to test on just my one face in a short period of time. I don’t like to introduce more than one new product at a time (per day, though if you have more sensitive skin, you might want to wait longer between new products) so that if I have a bad reaction, I can tell what caused it. What I decided to do with this bounty, then, was to pick one thing to use consistently for a couple of weeks and to review in detail, and to try everything else at least once and give you a briefer, first-impressions-type descriptions of those products. Besides, you know how long-winded I am: no one would want to read my novel-length review of all eight products in one sitting. This is going to be a doozy as it is.

I’d been wanting a richer moisturizer for a while, so I picked the Azelique Age Refining Night Cream as the thing to incorporate fully into my routine (which is otherwise basically the same as what I described here). Since these products contain azelaic acid, I did, however, stop using my other azelaic acid product for the time being. 

First some general thoughts about the whole line. The packaging is no nonsense, but appropriate for the products it contains. There was just one package I didn’t like much, and you can probably guess which one from just looking at the photo above—more on that later. I particularly like the airless pumps for the moisturizers. The copy on the packaging also gets my elusive stamp of approval. It tells you what’s in the product, highlights the featured ingredients and what they are supposed to do for your skin, and—this is important—does not make any unrealistic, overblown, or woo-woo claims. There’s also a warning about patch testing products with azelaic and glycolic acid to make sure it doesn’t irritate the skin. So just because this is a line that is marketed as natural, there’s no drivel about how that supposedly means it will work for absolutely everyone with perfect, magical gentleness (like some other brands that will remain nameless). These are active ingredients that do stuff to your skin, and you need to make sure they will do the stuff that you want them to do and not do stuff you don’t want. Everyone’s skin is a little different.

Every product here, with the exception of the eye cream, the serum, and the facial oil, has the same vaguely plant-like fragrance. It’s pretty subtle, but there’s something floral and/or herbal there. I’m not good at identifying scents. I could do without it, personally, but it’s light enough that I don’t notice it after a few minutes.

Review of Azelique Azelaic Acid Skincare from iHerb

First up, the Azelique Age Refining Night Cream ($20). This is a thick moisturizing lotion that I enjoyed much more than I expected I would. It was immediately clear that this was the kind of step my shriveled skin has been missing—the part of Texas where I’m currently living has been colder than usual this winter, and my office is having problems with low humidity on top of it, so I’m extra dry. The night cream is rich but easy to spread and not greasy, and it feels really, really soothing and nourishing on my skin. I need about two pumps to cover my face, though three pumps feels extra nice.

Here are the ingredients: 
Water (aqua), caprylic/capric triglyceride, cetyl alcohol, glycerin, carthamus tinctorius (safflower) seed oil, glyceryl stearate citrate, potassium azeloyl diglycinate, stearyl alcohol, ethylhexyl palmitate, sodium hyaluronate, potassium sorbate, xanthan gum, vitis vinifera (grape seed) seed oil, glyceryl stearate, potassium cetyl phosphate, tocopheryl (vitamin E), acetate, acetyl hexapeptide-8, palmitoyl oligopeptide, palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7, glycolic acid hamamelis virgiana (witch hazel) extract, caffeine, calcium ascorbate (vitamin C) retinyl (vitamin A) palmitate, ubiquinone (CoQ10), camellia sinensis (green tea) leaf extract, olea europaea (olive) leaf extract, euterpe oleracea (acai berry) fruit extract, punica granatum (pomegranate) seed oil, vaccinium myrtillus (bilberry) extract, rosa canina (rose hips) fruit extract, epilobium angustifolium (Canadian willowherb) extract, pichia/resveratrol ferment extract, phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin, fragrance.
Good, right? The azelaic acid is in the form of potassium azeloyl diglycinate, its water-soluble version. There’s also hyaluronic acid, which my skin always loves, in the form of sodium hyaluronate, along with some nice oils and other moisturizing ingredients like glycerin. There are even some vitamins and a ferment stuck in there low on this list.

Unfortunately the company couldn’t provide the exact percentage of azelaic acid included, which is something I was curious about. They did tell me, at least, that it contains 8.42% total active ingredients, which includes the azelaic acid, glycolic acid, argireline, matrixyl, hyaluronic acid, witch hazel, and caffeine. That means, obviously, that the concentration of azelaic acid here is lower than the usual 10% that you see in several other products on the market. If you’ve found those irritating or overkill, though, this might be a better option for your skin.

I’ve been able to use this night cream all over my face, including around my eyes, for two weeks without any adverse effects. In the morning there’s still some slight residue on my face, which I like to wash off. I don’t think this is a bad thing—it’s keeping the hydration in my skin all night, and if you have drier skin than mine, you might want to keep that extra moisture in place all day, too. Just as a moisturizer alone, this stuff works really well and has kept my skin soft and happy. I’ll talk about the longer term effects from using this whole line at the end of the post.

Review of Azelique Azelaic Acid Skincare from iHerb
Left to right above: One pump each of the Night Cream, Day Lotion, and Eye Treatment.

Next up is the Azelique Age Refining Day Lotion ($19). I’ve only used this product once, along with everything that follows, so take that into account. This was lighter than the night cream and didn’t feel as soothing. It was a perfectly functional moisturizer, however, which absorbed quickly but kept my skin feeling moisturized. I had no problems applying makeup over it.

Ingredients: 
Water (aqua), carthamus tinctorius (safflower) seed oil, glycerin, cetyl alcohol, glyceryl stearate, stearic acid, potassium azeloyl diglycinate, glyceryl stearate SE, polysorbate 60, allantoin, potassium sorbate, tocopheryl (vitamin E) acetate, dimethicone, glyceryl stearate citrate, vitis vinifera (grape) seed oil, cetearyl glucoside, sodium hyaluronate, acetyl hexapeptide-8, hydroxypropyl cyclodextrin, palmitoyl tripeptide-38, glycolic acid, hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel) extract, caffeine, sodium ascorbyl (vitamin C) phosphate, retinyl (vitamin A) palmitate, ubiquinone (CoQ10), camellia sinensis (green tea) leaf extract, olea europaea (olive) leaf extract, euterpe oleracea (acai berry) fruit extract, punica granatum (pomegranate seed oil, vaccinium myrtillus (bilberry) extract, rosa canina (rose hips) fruit extract, epilobium augustifolium (canadian willowherb) extract, pichia/resveratrol ferment extract, phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin, fragrance.
 You can see that the main ingredients (i.e. those in the first half of the list) are similar to the night cream, but sodium hyaluronate, for example, is a bit lower down, and overall the day lotion has quite a different texture from the night cream. In comparison to the 8% active ingredients in the night cream, the day lotion has 4.08%, so it’s less potent in general.

The next one I tried was the Azelique Age Refining Eye Treatment ($20). I’m not generally an eye cream user. For one, I’ve never found an eye cream that was much more useful than just using my best moisturizer around my eyes. What’s more, the skin near my eyes is prone to milia, and the heavy, oily ingredients in most eye creams tend to seriously exacerbate the problem. That said, I did like this lotion just fine, and it’s the one unscented product in the main Azelique line, so if you don’t like fragrance near your eyes, that would be a plus. Its texture is somewhere in between the night cream and day lotion in thickness and richness. It absorbed quickly, and after applying it at bedtime, I couldn’t detect it on my skin by the morning (but to be fair, it’s a “treatment,” not a moisturizer or a cream). For what it’s worth, I did not notice any new milia cropping up after one use of the eye product, which has actually happened with others in the past.

Ingredients for you: 
Water (aqua), capric/caprylic triglyceride, cetyl alcohol, stearic acid, carthamus tinctorius (safflower) seed oil, glyceryl stearate citrate, glycerin, xanthan gum, aloe barbadensis leaf extract, potassium sorbate, glyceryl stearate, tocopheryl (vitamin E) acetate, potassium cetyl phosphate, acetyl hexapeptide-8, hydroxypropyl cyclodextrin, palmitoyl tetrapeptide-38, potassium azeloyl diglycinate, sodium hyaluronate, hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel) extract, caffeine, sodium ascorbyl (vitamin C) phosphate, retinyl (vitamin A) palmitate, ubiquinone (CoQ10), vitis vinifera (grape seed) oil, camellia sinensis (green tea) leaf extract, olea europaea (olive) leaf extract, punica granatum (pomegranate) seed oil, vaccinium myrtillus (bilberry) extract, rosa canina (rose hips) fruit extract, epilobium angustifolium (Canadian willowherb) extract, pichia/resveratrol ferment extract, euterpe oleracea (acai berry) fruit extract, phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin.
It’s a similar blend to the previous two products, though certainly not identical (i.e. they’re not just selling you the same moisturizer in a smaller bottle). Normally I wouldn’t apply azelaic acid near my eyes, but this stuff contains just 3.6% active ingredients, and even among those, azelaic acid isn’t high on the list. I didn’t experience any irritation at all. That said, I was also fine using the night cream around my eyes, and for my money I’d rather stick with that, since I liked it so much. I think the lack of fragrance here is one of the most important differences.

Review of Azelique Azelaic Acid Skincare from iHerb

Next, Azelique Age Refining Cleanser ($13). I’m more concerned with performance in a cleanser than in its active ingredients, which are rinsed right off, so that’s what I’ll focus on here. This is a thin, runny, gel cleanser. It didn’t lather much, but it did clean my skin thoroughly, including removing all my makeup. It didn’t sting my eyes, which is something I hate in a cleanser, and it rinsed completely. My skin felt slightly tight after rinsing and drying, and so I was motivated to apply moisturizer pretty soon. It was a fine cleanser, but I don’t generally get too excited about cleansers.

Here are the ingredients, for your information:
Water (aqua), disodium laureth sulfosuccinate, cocamidopropyl hydroxysultaine, decyl glucoside, polysorbate 20, glyceryl stearate SE, glycerin, PEG-150 distearate, stearic acid, potassium sorbate, allantoin, tocopheryl (vitamin E) acetate, sodium ascorbyl (vitamin C) phosphate, retinyl (vitamin A) palmitate, ubiquinone (CoQ10), camellia sinensis (green tea) leaf extract, vitis vinifera (grape seed) oil, olea europaea (olive) leaf extract, euterpe oleracea (acai berry) fruit extract, punica granutum (pomegranate) seed oil, vaccinium myrtillus (bilberry) extract, rosa canina (rose hips) fruit extract, pichia/resveratrol ferment extract, epilobium angustifolium (canadian willowherb) extract, phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin, fragrance.
Now my other surprise favorite among the bunch: the Azelique Activated Charcoal Facial Clay Mask ($20). I’ve used a lot of clay and charcoal masks. Some work better than others, and some are more drying than others, but I haven’t been impressed by very many of them. I was expecting more of the same here. The mask is easy to spread in an even layer, and it dried rather quickly—the photo below was taken less than a minute after dispensing it, and the edges are already drying. Unlike some other masks, it doesn’t sting my eyes as it dries, probably because it doesn’t contain alcohol to evaporate and give off fumes. The mask felt slightly cool on my face in a soothing, not tingly, way. It contains some sparse, scrubby particles from apricot kernels. If you like physical exfoliation, you can do some gentle rubbing as you wash the mask off. If you don’t, just go ahead and rinse it, and the grit won’t affect your skin. 


When I first rinsed off the mask, my skin felt moisturized and not at all tight or dry. It felt calm and soothed, but when I looked in the mirror, I noticed that my face was slightly pink exactly where the mask had been—as in, I could see the border between the skin at the edge of my face where I hadn’t applied the mask and where I had. I was a little disturbed, I have to admit. As it turns out, however, when I looked in the mirror the next time, a couple of hours later, my usual redness in the center of my face had actually decreased significantly from what it was before masking! That almost never happens for me with masks. Then, when I took a close look the next morning, my pores were noticeably clearer and less visible. With a good clay mask, it usually isn’t until the next day that I see an improvement in my pores, so that was right on target. Overall, I’m very excited about this stuff. Soothing, moisturizing, redness-reducing, pore-shrinking. Score!

Ingredients:
Deionized water, kaolin, glycerin, potassium azeloyl diglycinate, glyceryl stearate SE, apricot (prunus armeniaca) seed powder, charcoal, sodium hyaluronate, sea kelp (macrocystis pyrifera) extract, cucumber (cucumis sativas) fruit extract, green tea (camellia sinensis) leaf extract, glycolic acid, panthenol, xanthan gum, menthyl lactate, phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin, potassium sorbate, fragrance.
I don’t know the percentage of active ingredients from this list, but you can see that the azelaic acid is higher in the list than in the other products, and that it’s actually above the gritty, bulky apricot seed powder. If you’d like to try masking with azelaic acid instead of using it in a leave-on product, I recommend giving this a shot.

And then there is the Azelique Age Refining Skin Polish ($22), which is a scrub that contains alumina, or aluminum oxide, as its physical exfoliation agent. This is a fine grit, almost the texture of baking soda, that is typically used for microdermabrasion. I like to do some physical exfoliation once a week or so to get rid of any flakiness that chemical exfoliants can’t handle, and this polish worked well for that purpose: my skin felt very soft and smooth for days after using it. I’d recommend being gentle, because alumina won’t dissolve or soften like some other scrub particles (sugar, salt, jojoba beads, etc.). 

Review of Azelique Azelaic Acid Skincare from iHerb

My main complaint about this product is the jar packaging. It’s not just the usual gripes about jars that I object to here. The main problem is that you are supposed to wet your face first, and then use the scrub. It’s really difficult to splash water on my face and then scoop out the polish without dripping water into the jar. Even with a spoon or spatula, I’d have to dry off my hands in between. It would just be much more practical if it came in the same squeeze tube as the cleanser and mask.


Ingredients:
Water (aqua), alumina, stearic acid, stearyl alcohol, glyceryl stearate citrate, ethylhexylglycerin, phenoxyethanol, glycerin, xanthan gum, carrageenan, potassium sorbate, glyceryl stearate SE, potassium cetyl phosphate, tocopheryl (vitamin E) acetate, sodium ascorbyl (vitamin C) phosphate, retinyl (vitamin A) palmitate, ubiquinone (CoQ10), camellia sinensis (green tea) leaf extract, vitis vinifera (grape) seed seed oil, olea europaea (olive) leaf extract, euterpe oleracea (acai berry) fruit, punica granatum (pomegranate) seed oil, vaccinium myrtillus (bilberry) extract, rosa canina (rose hips) fruit extract, epilobium angustifolium (Canadian willowherb) extract, pichia/resveratrol ferment extract, fragrance.

Review of Azelique Azelaic Acid Skincare from iHerb

The last two products that iHerb sent me are from Azelique’s Serumdipity line, and those serums and oils don’t necessarily contain azelaic acid like the main collection does.

I chose the Facial Oil with Peptides ($20), because I don’t have much experience with peptides in my skincare. As a first impression, it was a pleasant facial oil to use, not too thick or too thin, and it absorbed quickly but not instantly. My face wasn’t left feeling greasy after I applied four drops of the oil on top of moisturizer. This is the kind of product, though, that I’ll really have to evaluate after longer use, so I’ll check in later.

Despite the inclusion of rosemary leaf extract in the ingredients below, I couldn’t detect any fragrance at all in this oil (which I prefer). Ingredients:
Helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, butyrospermum parkii (shea) oil, camellia japonica seed oil, crambe abyssinica seed oil, limnanthes alba (meadowfoam) seed oil, palmitoyl tripeptide-1, c18-36 acid glycol ester, palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract, tocopherol, c 12-15 alkyl benzoate, sorbitan laurate, c18-36 acid triglyceride.
I also requested the Hyaluronic Acid Facial Serum ($20), because my skin loves hyaluronic acid, and I can’t resist trying different formulas that contain it. This serum was light and absorbed immediately. It provided hydration, but it’s not a replacement for moisturizer, so I’d recommend using it in conjunction with one of those. It had enough slip to spread easily over my skin, and it had no fragrance (again, thumbs up for that). 

Ingredients:
Water, glycerin, hydrolyzed jojoba esters, sodium hyaluronate, hordeum vulgare seed extract, oat (avena sativa) seed extract, galium aparine extract, evening primrose (oenothera biennis) flower extract, sodium phytate, acacia senegal gum, citric acid, xanthan gum, phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin.
Overall, after using the Night Cream nightly for just over two weeks, and using each other product once during that same period, my skin is in nice condition. It’s very well moisturized, but not unusually oily; it’s much softer and smoother than usual; and the redness that I ordinarily see, particularly in the center of my face, is minimized. One thing that these products did not help with was the hormonal, cystic acne that I usually get on my chin every month. I don’t think anything here contributed to breakouts, but they also didn’t help to prevent them like my 10% azelaic acid product does. And to be fair, Azelique never claims to treat acne, so that’s not something I expected. Accordingly, like I said earlier, I’d recommend these products for people who find 10% azelaic acid too strong and/or who are looking for results other than acne control—brightening, redness reduction, and other antioxidant benefits—in a gentle formulation. Personally, I’m going to carefully add my 10% azelaic acid back in, because I don’t think it will be too much for me.

I really was impressed with this collection. I honestly expected to like a couple of the products, hate a couple, and feel meh about the rest. (I promise I would tell you if that were the case.) Instead, I found a couple of things that I truly enjoyed, and I have mostly positive thoughts about the others. My favorites are the Night Cream (probably because it has the highest concentration of active ingredients in addition to effective moisturizers) and the Charcoal and Clay Mask, both of which I unreservedly recommend. I plan to replace them when I run out, though I might wait until next winter for the my next bottle of night cream. My least favorite items are the Cleanser and Polish, because they didn’t seem like things I needed to add to my routine. But they’re fine. 

The price point for this line is pretty reasonable. For instance, the Day Lotion costs $19 for 1.7 oz., and the Night Cream is $20 for the same amount, which isn’t as cheap as your basic drugstore moisturizer, obviously, but is less expensive than other comparable products with similar formulations in my routine. iHerb also gave me a code to share with you that is embedded into all of the affiliate links in this post. If you purchase through any of my links, you’ll get 5% off your order (and so will I). In addition, new customers will get $5 off a $40 purchase of anything from iHerb by using this link.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Not as Good as Gold: Review of L'Oréal Colour Riche Lipstick in Gold Addiction

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Review of L'Oréal Colour Riche Lipstick in Gold Addiction

Yep. That's the title I came up with for this post. Anyway, do you ever buy something with a specific and entirely unrealistic image of it in your mind, and then feel massively disappointed when it doesn't live up to that image, even though you know it's your fault for inventing it in the first place? What happened here is that, at the beginning of the metallic lipstick trend a couple of years ago, L'Oréal released their Gold Obsessions lipstick range in the U.K. Some photo I saw convinced me that the plain gold lipstick in that collection was the one. That unlike every other gold lipstick I had ever seen, it was shiny and metallic, rather than sparkly, and opaque, rather than patchy.

So when I saw that that collection had finally popped up on the Ulta website this fall, although with the name changed from Obsession to Addiction, I decided that I needed Gold Addiction, the pure gold option. I didn't do much additional research other than to confirm that this was the same collection. I ordered it.

Then it arrived and it was sheer. And sparkly. And slippery. And patchy. Sure enough, I can't find whatever photo it was that once upon a time made me think this lipstick was going to be special. Did I dream it?

Swatch of L'Oréal Colour Riche Lipstick in Gold Addiction

I think maybe you can see in the photo above that the fine glitter has already started to migrate off of my lips, even though I only applied the lipstick two minutes before taking the photo.

Gold seems to be a difficult color to get high pigmentation from when it comes to lipstick. When Bite Beauty teased their zodiac lipstick for Leo this year, I saw the gold bullet and was intrigued. But then swatches demonstrated that it, too, was sheer. I may be the least Leo-y Leo ever, but even I think a sheer gold lipstick is a yawn. I have certainly seen other metallics that are more opaque, even from a bullet and not a liquid formula (though they do have a tendency to be slippery). I don't know if it's the yellow--it's hard to find a yellow eyeshadow or even nail polish that isn't patchy. But then it's not hard to find an opaque gold eyeshadow or nail polish! So the possible technical limitations in play here are eluding me.

Here's a comparison with the sheer gold from Bite's 2016 holiday duos (reviewed here). Gold Addiction is very similar, just a bit sparklier and warmer. The warmer yellow gold of the L'Oréal lipstick is harder for me to wear--I can't generally wear warm yellows on my face without looking a bit sick.

Swatches of L'Oréal Colour Riche Lipstick in Gold Addiction and Bite Beauty Gold

Maybe Pat McGrath's new gold lipstick will be the gold holy grail, but I don't think I'm going to gamble (much more!) on it. Probably I should just finally open up the PMG Labs package I won in the Makeup Museum giveaway and play with the gold pigment. That is if I really want to have opaque gold lips, which, let's face it, is hardly an everyday look for me. This might just be a dream I should let go.

If you're looking for a sheer, shimmery gold lipstick, Gold Addiction is . . . one of the ones that exists. But it's nothing very special. Do you do the whole extra glitter and metallics for the holidays? I like the idea in theory, but in practice I'm not going to be attending the kinds of events where I'll dress up like that.

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